Suicide by burning barbecue charcoal in England

Ying-Yeh Chen, Olive Bennewith, Keith Hawton, Sue Simkin, Jayne Cooper, Nav Kapur, David Gunnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning from burning barbecue charcoal has become a common method of suicide in several Asian countries over the last 15 years. The characteristics of people using this method in Western countries have received little attention.

METHOD: We reviewed the inquest reports of 12 English Coroners (11% of all Coroners) to identify charcoal-burning suicides. We compared socio-demographic and clinical characteristics of suicide by charcoal burning occurring between 2005 and 2007 with suicides using other methods in 2005.

RESULTS: Eleven charcoal-burning suicides were identified; people using this method were younger (mean age 33.4 versus 44.8 years, P = 0.02), and more likely to be unemployed (70.0 versus 30.1%, P = 0.01) and unmarried (100 versus 70%, P = 0.04) than those using other methods. Charcoal-burning suicides had higher levels of contact with psychiatric services (80.0 versus 59.1%) and previous self-harm (63.6 versus 53.0%) compared with suicides using other methods, but these differences did not reach conventional levels of statistical significance. Over one-third of people dying by charcoal burning obtained information on this method from the Internet.

CONCLUSIONS: Working with media, including Internet Service Providers, and close monitoring of changes in the incidence of suicide using this method might help prevent an epidemic of charcoal-burning suicides such as that seen in some Asian countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-7
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Structured keywords

  • SASH


  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Charcoal
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Suicide
  • Unemployment
  • Young Adult


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